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Mountain Cuisine: 5 Must-Try Traditional Dishes

Article prepared by our Media Partner Orizzonte Italia Magazine

Mountain Cuisine: Between Traditional Dishes and Restaurants

Simple and genuine, mountain cuisine is a tribute to intense and bold flavours! Whatever the season, after skiing or hiking, it’s always the right time to treat yourself to a typical dish made with local ingredients. From starters to desserts, including meat dishes, here are 5 specialties to enjoy in the best restaurants at the top or at the foot of the Dolomites.

Canederli, the bread dumplings of mountain cuisine

The Dolomites, one of Italy’s most fascinating mountain regions, offer a rich culinary tradition reflecting the area’s history and culture. One of the most famous typical dishes is “canederli,” also known as “knödel” in German. These are bread dumplings enriched with speck, cheese, spinach, or liver, served in broth or with melted butter. A perfect comfort food after a day exploring the mountains. If you find yourself along the Avisio river walk in Canazei, a must-stop to enjoy this dish along with other local specialties is definitely the Tobia de Zeli Restaurant.

Casunziei, an ancient but always fashionable recipe

Another iconic dish of the Dolomites is “Casunziei,” a type of ravioli filled with red beet, potatoes, or spinach, and topped with melted butter and poppy seeds. This dish represents a perfect combination of sweet and savoury flavours, and the vibrant colour of the beet adds an appealing touch to its presentation.

Casunziei are an example of the creative and skilful use of local ingredients. The traditional ones at the ‘L Fudlé Restaurant in the centre of Santa Cristina are unmissable, as are the “Ladin Mezzelune” filled with spinach and ricotta from Salvan in Corvara.

Mountain Cuisine: Game Meat

The Dolomites, with their forests, offer a wide variety of typical game dishes. One of the most emblematic dishes is surely capriolo in salmì (roer deer) a preparation that requires time and patience. The venison is marinated with red wine, aromatic herbs, and spices for several hours, then slowly cooked to achieve a tender consistency and intense flavour. This dish is often accompanied by polenta, a classic of mountain cuisine.

Another highly appreciated dish is chamois alla cacciatora (chamois chasseur) cooked with vegetables, wine, and aromas. The cacciatora preparation, with its mix of fresh ingredients and traditional cooking techniques, enhances the natural taste of the game. Usually, this dish is served with simple sides like roasted potatoes or wild mushrooms, which harmoniously complete the aromatic profile of the chamois.

Finally, one cannot talk about game without mentioning deer. From tartare to fillet to oven-roasted shank, this meat is a true symbol of conviviality and tradition in mountain cuisine. A juicy and flavourful dish usually accompanied by mashed potatoes or stewed red cabbage to create a perfect balance of flavours and textures.

South Tyrolean recipes and gourmet game specialties are the highlights of the innovative Tubladel Restaurant in the centre of Ortisei. The deer fillet or tartare with herbs and berries are spectacular for both the eyes and the palate.

If you are looking for a true temple of game in Cortina, you will find it undoubtedly overlooking Lake Scin. In this hut named after its body of water, chef Carlo Festini Cucco will amaze you with typical local mountain cuisine dishes, but especially with game. Among the many offerings that certainly deserve a taste, we recommend the venison pâté with brioche bread and the deer stew with polenta.

Another must-visit for a top-notch culinary experience with a panoramic view in Val di Fassa is the Dolomites Geyser Restaurant, where some innovative reinterpretations of the great classics of mountain cuisine will surprise you with every bite.

Speaking of game, the homemade tagliatelle with venison ragù, tartare, and stew are definitely worth trying.

Apple Strudel: The Perfect Ending to Any Meal

A dessert that has won the hearts of many and has become a symbol of Tyrolean cuisine is undoubtedly the “apple strudel.” Made with a thin, crispy pastry filled with apples, raisins, pine nuts, sugar, and cinnamon, often served warm with a dusting of powdered sugar or accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This dessert perfectly represents the confectionery tradition of the region, offering a sweet and comforting end to a meal rich in authentic flavours.

Not only in restaurants but also in typical Ladin bars that take visitors on a journey through the food and wine tradition of the Dolomites, such as “La Bar” in Ortisei, Strudel is perfect for a snack or to complete a quick lunch break with a menu inspired by the simple recipes of the past.

Kaiserschmarrn: A Typical Snack in the Mountains and Beyond

A final local sweet dish among the favourites and absolutely worth trying is Kaiserschmarrn. A kind of egg-based pancake with a sprinkle of sugar, served with cranberry jam. Simple, but certainly a dish worthy of an emperor (“Kaiser”)!

Now that you know the 5 must-try dishes of mountain cuisine, all that remains is to immerse yourself with all 5 senses in the extraordinary gastronomic culture of the Dolomites during your next high-altitude holiday.

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